Episode 47: Low Effort – High Impact Prioritization w/Sreemati Lalgudi

2 March, 2021 / Host: PETRA FÄRM

The Art of Saying No and Building Collective Focus

When it comes to prioritization, one of the most challenging aspects is learning to say no. The realization that certain tasks or ideas won't make the cut can create prolonged discussions and induce anxiety in product managers. However, according to Jake Knapp's principles in Design Sprints, the key is to prioritize getting started over being right. Embracing this mindset can help product managers overcome the fear of saying no and enable them to focus on taking action.
In this episode of The Productbeats Show, Sreemati Lalgudi, CPO of a startup focused on employee mental wellbeing, shares insights on low effort, high impact prioritization. With her extensive experience in product development and working with top companies like PayPal, Spotify, and Worldline, Lalgudi discusses the importance of prioritization in delivering valuable and delightful products for customers. This article delves into the concept of high impact, low effort prioritization and explores strategies to succeed in implementing it effectively.

Collective Focus: The Power of 70% Confidence

Prioritization serves as a tool to build collective focus within teams. It's important to understand that achieving 100% certainty is often unrealistic. Instead, aiming for around 70% confidence in the chosen course of action is often sufficient. By acknowledging that perfection isn't always attainable, product managers can embrace the idea of just doing it. Taking action based on reasonable confidence levels allows for progress and learning along the way, ultimately driving better outcomes.
High impact, low effort prioritization is a simple technique that helps product leaders identify the most valuable ideas for implementation. The concept involves placing ideas in a four-box matrix, with one scale representing high to low impact and the other scale representing high to low effort. By categorizing ideas based on their impact and effort levels, product teams can focus on ideas that provide maximum value with minimal effort.

The Value of Prioritization

Rather than viewing prioritization as a burden, it's important to recognize its inherent value. In any product development journey, there will always be more tasks and ideas than available resources. This abundance of opportunities signals that the product is alive and evolving. It demonstrates that there is still room for improvement, innovation, and experimentation. In contrast, a lack of tasks may indicate a stagnating product with limited user engagement. Therefore, prioritization serves as a positive reminder of the product's vitality and the need for continuous growth.
As a product leader, the primary goal of prioritization is to identify the most valuable ideas that not only solve user problems but also make customers happy. Prioritization allows teams to evaluate ideas, experiment with them, and gain insights to implement products effectively. By focusing on the right ideas, teams can create collective alignment and prioritize efforts towards achieving business goals.

Escaping Parkinson's Law: Strategies for Effective Prioritization

Parkinson's Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Applying this concept to product development implies that without proper prioritization, tasks can expand endlessly, leading to inefficiencies and delays. Prioritization acts as a safeguard against this phenomenon. By making conscious choices and allocating resources based on impact and effort, product managers can prevent projects from spiraling out of control. The act of prioritization ensures that efforts are focused, resources are optimized, and progress is made within reasonable timeframes.
  • Categorizing Ideas: Start by categorizing ideas based on their impact and effort levels. Ideas that fall under high effort and low impact can be rejected, while those with high impact and low effort should be prioritized. This initial categorization helps filter out ideas that may not provide significant value.
  • Rethinking Low Effort, Low Impact Ideas: While some ideas may appear to have low effort and low impact, it is essential to consider their potential impact on the business. Explore ways to leverage such ideas to create incremental value or turn them into high-impact initiatives by making them part of a larger product offering.
  • Emphasizing Learning: Prioritization should also focus on learning. By implementing smaller efforts that provide medium impact, teams can gain valuable insights about working together, understanding product limitations, and identifying areas for improvement. Learning serves as a foundation for future prioritization and decision-making.
  • Defining Clear Impact Metrics: Establish a clear and shared definition of impact metrics with stakeholders. Whether it is increasing monthly active users or improving specific product metrics, a well-defined impact metric helps align efforts across the organization.
  • Effort Estimation: Alongside impact metrics, develop a clear understanding of effort estimation. Use a simple scale, such as low, medium, and high, to assess the level of effort required for implementing an idea. Seek input and insights from experienced team members or peers to avoid reinventing the wheel.
  • Stay Connected with Customers: Maintaining a strong connection with customers is crucial for effective prioritization. Actively engage with customers through surveys, user interviews, or by leveraging customer feedback channels. Staying connected helps teams understand customer needs, identify pain points, and make informed decisions.

Overcoming Challenges

Implementing high impact, low effort prioritization may face several challenges. Here are strategies to overcome them:
  • Smart Validation: Instead of getting stuck in extensive validation processes, be smart about validating ideas. Use techniques like surveys, smoke tests, MVPs, or user interviews to validate assumptions and gather data effectively.
  • Collective Confidence: Rely on collective confidence within the team. Trust the knowledge and expertise of team members when assessing effort levels. If the team collectively believes an idea requires high effort, leverage their insights and align efforts accordingly.
  • Avoid Backlog Overload: Resist the temptation to accumulate a massive backlog of ideas. Learn to say no to ideas that are not relevant at the moment. Revisit and reevaluate ideas when the timing becomes appropriate.


  • High impact, low effort prioritization is crucial for product leaders to identify the most valuable ideas that benefit users and make customers happy.
  • Prioritization involves evaluating and experimenting with ideas to validate assumptions and create delightful products.
  • Clear definitions of impact metrics and effort levels, collective confidence, and continuous learning are essential for successful prioritization and product development.

As you can see, mastering high impact, low effort prioritization is a key skill for product leaders striving for success. If you're eager to further enhance your product management capabilities and gain a comprehensive understanding of product strategy, development, and leadership, consider The Productbeats Product Management Certification Program. This program provides in-depth training, practical insights, and valuable resources to help you excel in the dynamic field of product management. By combining the knowledge gained from this program with the techniques discussed in this article, you can take your product prioritization skills to new heights and drive remarkable outcomes for your organization. Don't miss out on the opportunity to become a certified product management expert through The Productbeats Program.
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